Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)

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Double Whammy -- Carpeting on Outdoor Wood

Working as a home inspector in Bellingham, WA, the heart of the Pacific NorthWET, I see many circumstances that are conducive to decay and deterioration of the building materials.

This example, below, is commonly seen. A homeowner has tacked indoor-outdoor carpet over the wood deck. Some of the surface, of lesser concern, is covered with an overhang above. But there is a significant expanse that is not covered.  These carpets absorb moisture and retain it against, and in, the surface of the lumber below.

Carpet on deck, Bellingham WA Home Inspector, King of the House

A combination of wet wood and carpet over the wood is a double whammy. With the arrangement, nature gets involved -- wood that is at 20% or higher moisture levels is susceptible to rot. And, at least in this wet maritime climate, the question is not"whether" the wood will rot, the question is simply "when" will rot occur in this wood that stays wet almost all of the time.

It is my suggestion, when building decks, that structural components such as posts, joists, beams and ledgers (where possible) should consist of pressure-treated lumber. And the decking, especially wood boards, should be installed with rain gaps or spaces between the planks -- so rain does not collect on the surface. Of course, carpeting should not be tacked over the wood, doing so defeats the purpose of the rain gaps and leads to rot.

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 18 commentsSteven L. Smith • January 01 2013 08:43AM

Comments

I can honestly say that that is something I have not seen before, and it makes me wonder why it would be done...

Posted by Bud & Beth McKinney, Cary/Raleigh/Apex NC - The Team That Cares, RE/MAX United (RE/MAX UNITED) over 6 years ago

Bud and Ruth,

Various reasons...sometimes they think it makes the deck less slippery, but only until the carpeting is saturated.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Yes, and I tried to explain this to a mother-in-law in Florida NOT to do this. But she did anyway ...

Posted by Carla Harbert, RE/MAX Omega: Lorain-Medina County Area (www.LorainCountyHomeSales.com) over 6 years ago

Wonder why anyone would do this?  Happy New Year 2013.

Posted by Edward & Celia Maddox, EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY - WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD (The Celtic Connection Realty) over 6 years ago

People do many things without thinking about their consequences.  How about all those pretty plantings close to the house?

Posted by Rafi Footerman, Home Inspector, Mold Inspector, Radon and More! (Mid Jersey Inspections) over 6 years ago

Carla, In some really dry climate it might not be a problem. But when it rains in Florida, it sure rains.

Edward and Celia, usually for looks or temporary traction

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Rafi,

You got that right.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Steven, I see indoor/outdoor carpet used alot here, but not usually over a wooden deck. Not a smart move, they will be replacing the decking way sooner than they expected... unless it's Trex.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 6 years ago

Fred,

People get some weird ideas, of that we home inspectors can be certain.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

OMG LOL, I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the title.  That is crazy.  As a flooring contractor, I can see that would be a recipe for disaster and in more ways than one. I don't think I've ever seen that in our area, nor had a request for it...but I think that's because it would never ever last more than one season with the snow.  BTW, I believe this carpet is designed to go over concrete.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

As a fellow resident of the Pacific NorthWet, I know exactly what you're talking about and I, too, scratch my head and wonder:  What are they thinking?!?

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 6 years ago

Can't imagine putting carpet over wood in a wet area.

 

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 6 years ago

We get so much algae and lichen on wood surfaces that people decide carpeting over will make it less slick which works for a very brief period of time....quite shortsighted.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Solid advice Mason.  I see that all the time here too and we aren't as maritime a climate as you are.

Outdoor carpeting is okay if it is Redskin colors, of course.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay,

I figure home owners get this idea all over the country, Canada too I bet.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Just wanted to stop and say HAPPY NEW YEAR! Keep up the good work.

Posted by Sussie Sutton, UTR TEXAS Realtors - Rep for buyers and sellers. (UTR Texas Realtors) over 6 years ago

Yup Canada too. Snow adds another dimension and wet carpets stay wet in cool weather. So even when the spring sun appears, there are no dry boards to walk on.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 6 years ago

If you did want a carpeted deck what would you put over the wood? Rubber or plastic sheeting to prevent the wood getting wet? What is best?

Posted by Matt 10 months ago

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